Joe Parry of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a radioman aboard an ammunition ship involved in three of the primary battles in the Pacific Theatre of Operation during World War II—Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Philippines.
During the historic Battle of Iwo Jima, near the close of World War II, two American flags were raised by Marines on Mt. Suribachi. The second flag raising is the one most people in this country know about, but it was only an afterthought.
Sgt. Gary Hoffman of Englewood, Fla. who spent time in the Marines half a lifetime ago, contacted me a while back. He’s a Sun reader who likes war stories. Consequently he looks at my column from time to time. More importantly the old Marine e-mailed me a story he liked. I liked it too, so…
When Carl Cowin of Country Club Estates in Venice, Fla. sailed into Pearl Harbor he was a scared 17-year-old Marine. The Japanese had just bombed Pearl and almost all of the battleships in America’s Pacific Fleet were sunk in the harbor at dockside.
During the Battle for the Philippines in World War II, Lt. j.g. Harley Cox of North Port, Fla. was catapulted off the deck of the carrier USS Tulagi (CVE-72) at the instant the engine of his Wildcat fighter died. He and his plane plunged into the sea in the path of his oncoming flattop.
John Henry Barrow II of Royal Palm Retirement Centre in Port Charlotte, Fla. served aboard a destroyer and a sub chaser in the Pacific during World War II. He took part in some of the major battles—Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa to name three. Saipan is the one the 90-year-old former local sailor remembers best.
It wasn’t long after Navy Medical Corpsman Steven Bizeur of North Port, Fla. came ashore on Kwajalein with the 4th Marine Division he became a casualty himself during the war in the Pacific.
During most of the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima, Marine Pfc. Silas Jessup was a stretcher bearer. He received a commendation from the commanding general of his division for carrying more than 100 dead and wounded U.S. Marines and a Japanese Imperial Marine off the most costly battlefield foot-for-foot in the Corps 231-year…
Fred Paulsen heard the 20 mm guns on the carrier USS Saratoga firing at will as she cruised off Iwo Jima on Feb. 21, 1945. That’s when he knew they were in trouble.
Glen Johnson of Tropic Palm mobile-home park, south of Punta Gorda, Fla. went to war right out of high school in mid-July 1943. After boot camp he and a group of other sailors took a banana boat to Pearl Harbor. His destroyer hadn’t returned with the fleet from fighting the Japanese at Tarawa Atoll.
The USS Hocking, an attack transport, was a marked ship while still in port at Hilo, Hawaii, even before it sailed for the war zone in 1944. Stanley Fiorini of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a deckhand on one of its landing craft.
Ray Richards’ latest battle is as tough as the one he fought more than 60 years ago, when, as an 18-year-old Marine in the 3rd Marine Division, he saw action and was wounded at the start of the Battle for Iwo Jima during the final months of World War II.
Bob Porter of Venice, Fla. served as a sergeant with the 5th Marine Division in World War II. He was with the first U.S. Marines killed or wounded at the Battle of Iwo Jima during the closing days of the Second World War.
Gene Roaf of Punta Gorda, Fla. was a plane captain who maintained a single Corsair fighter aboard the carrier USS Bennington during the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in World War II. He served as a seaman 1st class and part of the Essex class carrier’s deck crew.
Dick Trott, who lives in the Jacaranda Trace Apartments in Venice, Fla., came ashore on Feb. 19, 1945 in the second wave with the 5th Marine Division during the Battle of Iwo Jima. He was a corporal operating a radio working with Navajo Code Talkers providing U.S. Marines with an unbreakable language to communicate in…
Long before his squad slogged through the black volcanic beach on Iwo Jima in February 1945, Sgt. Paul Vnencak, who winters in Port Charlotte, had seen considerable action as a member of the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division.
Bill Jordan and Dick Boos were Marine Corps buddies. Jordan was a “DUKW,” landing craft, driver and Boos a medic. Jordan survived World War II. Boos didn’t. He fell in the black, volcanic sand of Iwo Jima, six months before the end of WWII. He was 19.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941, Pvt. Stan Sherfick of Punta Gorda, Fla. was playing catch with a buddy at Haleiwa Field on the north side of Oahu Island, where the 47th Pursuit Squadron was based.
For 38 years Joan Jacobson was the wife and then the widow of Medal of Honor recipient Maj. Douglas T. Jacobson USMC. It was a big responsibility. When she married her Marine officer husband she knew nothing about the Medal of Honor or what it represented.
The hand-written note on the back of the framed 8 X 10-inch black and white photo on the wall of Earl Swillum’s Port Charlotte, Fla. home reads: “Iwo Jima, Day 3.” On the flip side it shows LST-121 on the beach with its bow in the island’s black volcanic sand two days before the Marines put an American flag atop Mount Suribachi.
Cpl. Walter O’Malley was a 19-year-old Browning Automatic Rifleman in the first wave of Marines who came ashore on Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945. His war ended six days later when he was struck in the leg and arm by two pieces of shrapnel from an enemy mortar.
Enemy artillery rounds and small-arms fire rained down in the water all around them as they came ashore on “Red Beach,” near the base of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, with U.S. Marines. Seaman/3rd Milt Alligood manned the steel ramp in the bow of the plywood Higgins Boat. He lowered it as the “Leathernecks” charged…
Dick Brown thought he was going to be an 18-year-old naval aviator in 1944. He quickly found out the military had more young flyboys than it needed.
Gunner’s Mate 2/C Luther Johnson was shot down in his TBM torpedo bomber during an attack on the Japanese fleet bottled up in Kure Bay, Japan in late July 1945. He was the back seat gunner on a ring-mounted .50-caliber machine-gun in an “Avenger,” part of Air Group VT-6 that flew from the deck of…
1st. Lt. Guice Johnson was the bombardier on the 12-man crew of the first B-29 to land on Tinian Island during the closing months of World War II. In fact, when Capt. Walter Schroder put down the wheels, the Seabees were still working to build the runway.
Before Louie Wilson of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined the Navy in May 1943 he and his late wife, Bea, had a roller skating act on stage in Vaudeville call The Wilson Duo. After boot camp and preliminary naval gunnery training he went aboard a destroyer escort, the USS Barr (DE-576), headed for battle in the…
Bill Springer will never forget his first night on Iwo Jima, March 1, 1945.
Ted Sivyer of Country Club Estates in Venice manned a 20 mm antiaircraft gun on two destroyers, one during the Invasion of Sicily and North Africa and the other at Iwo Jima and Okinawa in World War II.
Homer Beach was a “Buffalo,” amphibious vehicle driver, in the 3rd Marine Division. The 20-year-old corporal drove assault troops ashore on Guam, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima during World World II.
A week after the Japanese bombed the Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, dragging the United States into World War II, Frank Garcia joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
By the time Master Chief Herb Schmaeling retired from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1971 he had served in the Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Wasp in World War II and during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
By the time Ken Rivers of Port Charlotte, Fla. was 20 he had taken part in seven major engagements in the Pacific in World War II aboard the destroyer USS Mansfield (DD-728), participated in the first naval battle of the war in Tokyo Bay and attended the Surrender Ceremony on Sept. 2, 1945 when the…
Russell Holland of Punta Gorda Isles, Fla. was a corporal in the 5th Marine Division on Feb. 19, 1945, when his unit went ashore on the first day of the battle for Iwo Jima. It was one of the major battles in the Pacific during the closing months of World War II.
Don Fowler was born in Arcadia, Florida in 1925. “I was going to graduate from DeSoto County High School in 1943, but I joined the Navy to see the world that March,” Fowler, who lives in Rotonda, Fla. said more than six decades later.
It wasn’t the bombing of the carrier USS Franklin off the coast of Japan on March 19, 1945, or the attack by 31 Kamikazes on the four destroyers leading the Franklin’s task force off Okinawa on April 14, 1945, that John Wisse of Rotonda, Fla. considers his worst day in World War II.
At 90 Don Lumsden of Boca Royale subdivision in Englewood, Fla. has the distinction of being the oldest living “Frogman” in the United States of America. He learned about this honor a few days ago from Mike Howard, Director of the Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla.
Earl Swillum went aboard an LST as a “90-Day Wonder” third officer and sailed into the war zone at the Battle for Saipan. Before the fighting in the Pacific was over he and the LSTH-121, which also served as a hospital ship, took part in three other major battles during World War II.
Robert Stilson of Alameda Isles Mobile Home Park in Englewood, Fla. was a 19-year-old Marine Corps corporal who charged ashore from a Higgins Boat onto the black sandy beach at Iwo Jima on the first first day in the second wave –Feb. 19, 1945– to play his part in one of the major battles in the Pacific during the closing months of World War II.
Dick Honyak walked into the Charlotte Sun newspaper office in Englewood, Fla. six years ago and dropped a big, thick, loose leaf notebook full of 8 by 10 black and white photographs on my desk. The historic photos were of the Marines taking Iwo Jima from the Japanese at the close of World War II.
By the time Radioman 2nd/Class Vern Nelson came aboard PT-108 in the South Pacific in 1944 the torpedo boat had seen lots of action against the Japanese in World War II. As part of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron FIVE the 80-foot plywood craft first operated out of the Panama Canal Zone starting in July starting in 1942.
Electronics Technician 2nd Class Richard Berry of Venice served aboard the USS Hudson (DD-470), on picket duty off Iwo Jima and Okinawa during the closing months of World War II.
It was Jan. 22, 1945 and Americans forces were already making air strikes on Okinawa. The captain of the battleship USS South Dakota got word a carrier plane had crashed into the sea off the Pacific island.
There’s not much Nick Gassera remembers about serving as a seaman aboard the destroyer USS Collett, DD-730, during World War II. But three images still vividly stick out in his mind about World War II after more than six decades—Okinawa, the typhoon and being aboard the first American ship to sail into Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered.
Herb Wild of Port Charlotte, Fla. joined the Navy in 1942 during World War II as an 18 –year-old electronics assistant’s mate. His job was to repair the newfangled electronic equipment on airplanes flown by Navy pilots in the Pacific Theatre of Operations.
Bill Toledo, a Navajo Code Talker with the 3rd Marine Division in World War II, was in the area talking to several organizations and school groups, along with Frank Willetton, another Navajo who fought with the 2nd Marine Division at Okinawa. The Rotary Club of Englewood, Fla. brought them to town to speak at their 7 a.m. weekly meeting Thursday, March 25, 2010. While here they also talked to the general public at a two hour session held at Lemon Bay High School in Englewood on Thursday evening. A full house of 1st Marine Division Assn. member listened to the…
The Battleship USS Missouri, flagship of Fleet Adm. William F. “Bull” Halsey’s Task Force 58, steamed into Tokyo Bay 150 ships-strong on the morning of Aug. 29, 1945. Quartermaster 3rd Class Ed Kalanta of Port Charlotte, Fla., was at the wheel of the 45,000 ton leviathan.
To everyone else, Sgt. William Harrell was a war hero. He was the recipient of the Medal of Honor, “…for conspicuous gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” at Iwo Jima during World War II. To Gary Harrell he was just dad.
The light cruiser Vicksburg laid a half-mile off the beach at Iwo Jima. Her 5-inch and 8-inch guns had pounded Mount Suribachi and the surround shoreline for days.
Lt. Charles Bailey, Sr. was the last of the line. He was the last of Punta Gorda, Fla.’s “Fighting Bailey Brothers.” The last of a family of seven sons and two daughters who distinguished themselves in war and in life during World War II, Korea and much of the 20th Century.